Goal: Examining Government’s Role – An Individualist’s Perspective on Power Dynamics and Individual Responsibility
This week, we will critically examine the government’s role and nature. Through this reflection, I hope to give you a more mature and productive means of thinking about and approaching the state.
The Libertarian Thought on Government as an Adjudicator
I started critically examining the government through my exposure to Ayn Rand. She outlined the preferred role of government as defender and adjudicator of disputes. She helped me push back against the boyish idea of the government as a caretaker.
Adam Kokesh gave me more contemporary and historical examples of government abuse and malice. And through Stefan Molyneux, I came to a complete understanding of the faults of government from a moral and logical perspective.
Therefore, we will cover the government’s cruelty, ineffectiveness, and inherent flaws. I will start by exploring the myths surrounding the state and the logical fallacies of the government. I will continue by analyzing the need for realism when viewing the government.
Lastly, I explore how you and I can approach government maturely and effectively without malice or rose-colored glasses.
This exploration will delve into government critique, anarcho-capitalism, and the state’s societal role.
Table of Contents
- Debunking the Myth Of Government Efficiency and Benevolence
- Challenging Authority: Unveiling the Inherent Flaws of Government Power
- 1) Government as a Monopoly of Force: The Violent Nature of State Power
- 2) Rethinking Government Purpose: From Public Service to Power Dynamics
- 3) A Troubling Legacy: Examining Government Abuse Through History
- 4) The Reality of Government Inefficiency: A Critique of State Performance
- Free market society alternatives can address the inefficiency and corruption in government
- Embracing Realism: A Balanced View of Government’s Role and Limitations
- Coping with Government Realities: Strategies for Mental and Civic Resilience
- Conclusion: Envisioning Self-Governance and Individual Responsibility in a Stateless Society
- Actionables: Steps for Personal Growth and Relationship Readiness
- Further Reading: Diverse Perspectives on Government Role and Individual Freedom
Debunking the Myth Of Government Efficiency and Benevolence
Firstly, let’s explore how government is typically perceived. Our civics class taught us that the government ultimately works for us, has checks and balances to prevent corruption, and is a necessary reality. To the average person, government is seen as a necessary evil. It is an institution that writes laws, enforces proper behavior, and protects us from the bad guys such as terrorists and criminals. It is an imperfect system full of imperfect people.
Weak individuals view the government as all good and a force that can deliver everything from free healthcare to free daycare with no drawbacks or strings attached.
Unfortunately, the government is not a benevolent force. It cannot provide the resources we need. More often than not, it is the root creator of injustices, instability, and violence in our societies.
As individualists, we must question the state and our fundamental understanding of the state.
Challenging Authority: Unveiling the Inherent Flaws of Government Power
“The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.” – Ayn Rand
In this section, I want to break down the four core issues with the state and how these issues reveal the cruelty and weakness of the government.
The core issues are:
1) Government as a Monopoly of Force: The Violent Nature of State Power
At its core, the government is a monopoly of force in a given geographical area (this is not the definition your average 8th grader is given).
The fact the government has a monopoly of force in an area means an imbalance in power. Even when it’s wrong, the government has the right and legal authority to use force against anyone, regardless of their innocence. This power imbalance naturally introduces corruption.
Additionally, initiating force outside of the extremities of self-defense is morally evil and cannot be universalized. I cannot initiate force against my neighbor because I say he owes me money, but the government can. Thus, the government doesn’t work on a moral level.
2) Rethinking Government Purpose: From Public Service to Power Dynamics
The government aims to keep society in order because people are flawed and lawless. However, the government is made of people. If we believe the average person is corruptible, flawed, and unscrupulous, then the government will be made of these same people.
There are no angels. Admittedly, some people are more virtuous than others. But even then, the natural power imbalance a government produces, especially one as large as ours, will naturally corrupt even the tamest and noblest souls.
Therefore, the government is meant to control the excesses of men and correct specific power imbalances. But the government frequently engages in excesses, and no one has more power than the government. The state creates the dysfunction it is supposedly correcting through its very existence. Logically, the government doesn’t make sense.
3) A Troubling Legacy: Examining Government Abuse Through History
Overall, the government has a lot of dead bodies and mass graves to its name. Millions of people were killed in the 20th century because of the state’s laws, actions, and mandates. Wars are started not by private interest but by warring states vying for control and resources. When the state is involved, death and violence always follow suit.
When we analyze societal collapses, the government is always the perpetrator and benefactor of dysfunction. The state drives social degeneracy, and such dysfunction leads to collapse. Historical examples vividly showcase the state’s monopoly of force and its repercussions.
And what benefit can people really claim for the state? Progress in social acceptance and safety arises because of cultural and market forces. For example, the fire sprinkler system, fire extinguisher, and seat belt were all private innovations and were adopted before the state forced adoption.
And if one could make the argument for the state’s benevolence, they have to contend with the violent, brutal drawbacks the state brings. Sure, the government provides welfare, but it drives inflation, sustains a large, ineffective military, and is riddled with corruption. Surely, we can provide for the less fortunate without relying on proven sociopaths.
Lastly, we can strongly argue other social structures and institutions, such as the Church and the family, create the stability and success individuals need to grow and mature. You cannot readily place the benefits of infrastructure and social cohesion at the foot of the state. Case in point: the modern era has one of the largest regimes the world has ever seen, with diminishing numbers of families and religions. Yet, we still have scores of issues such as poverty, wealth inequality, high taxes, homelessness, unsustainable debt, and other problems that would have been resolved if the government were the main driver behind social progress and success.
Historically, the government has not worked and proved ineffective at producing positive change.
4) The Reality of Government Inefficiency: A Critique of State Performance
“To be controlled in our economic pursuits means to be controlled in everything.” – F.A. Hayek
Our last example of government incompetence is how inefficient it is. Time and again, the government is shown as bloated, counter-productive, and useless when solving complex social and moral issues.
The local, state, and federal governments worldwide cannot balance a budget. There is no regime, at least in the Western world, that is within a reasonable budget. Personally, I believe having more than 35 trillion dollars in debt is a sign your programs and ideals are unsustainable and inefficient.
Additionally, the government is utterly incompetent at running complex and basic tasks it has been assigned. The infrastructure across multiple countries is terrible; public school quality is dropping, there are homeless people all around, and so on. The government is doing a poor job handling the responsibilities we were told it had to be assigned. And yet, we need to give them more money even though they collect 4 trillion dollars in taxes every year.
Free market society alternatives can address the inefficiency and corruption in government
Furthermore, private institutions and alternatives do infinitely better than the state. Homeschoolers frequently test higher and perform better than kids who have gone through public education. Private charities help and assist people at a fraction of the government’s cost. The list goes on and on.
Lastly, many state programs and agencies have no clear goals and no way to discern if they are a success or not. For example, what is the point of welfare? Is it to attend to the material needs of those who need help? Okay, what does that look like? We all recognize it isn’t a Ferrari, but where is the limit? And should we be trying to get people off welfare? Or is the goal to keep them on as long as they need to? How do we decide who is legitimately using the system to better themselves? These questions have no clear answer, and no one within the government can provide a clear set of goals and measurements for failure/success.
The state is bloated and wasteful. From the standpoint of doing one’s duty and doing it well, the government fails again.
Embracing Realism: A Balanced View of Government’s Role and Limitations
Because of the four points above, I realized the state is a net negative, at least as it is structured now. Such failure should cause us to rethink our faith and goodwill in the state. We should realize that it is not the savior we were taught it was.
How often in school were any of these realities highlighted to you? How often were you informed of the inefficiencies of your local, state, and federal government? How often were you told the state is an institution of violence with a monopoly on force in a given geographical area? How often were you taught how to become more self-sufficient and freer from government oversight?
We were never taught these things because such lessons would encourage us to be responsible, engaged citizens. We are told the state works, and while there are a few pitfalls here or there, we ultimately need the state, and we need it to have a massive influence on our lives.
All of it was hogwash.
Coping with Government Realities: Strategies for Mental and Civic Resilience
But the state’s brutality, failure, and corruption are obvious once revealed. The better question is: now what?
Here are four ways I’ve learned to cope with the government’s dysfunction:
- Accept you were lied to – The government of your 8th-grade civics class doesn’t exist. It is corrupt, dysfunctional, and inefficient. Accept this so you can move on.
- Understand the government’s purpose – The government is an institution of violence. It exists to subjugate and harm. Occasionally, the state harms the bad guys, but it will mostly harm the innocent, productive, and virtuous. If you accept this, you can navigate the world better because the government’s abuse becomes more predictable.
- Remember you cannot externalize responsibility or power without dire consequences – Personal power is your only way to happiness and fulfillment. Giving power to the state is a fool’s game that will only produce misery and defeat. Therefore, you must structure your life so you are not dependent on the government for your healthcare, food, entertainment, purpose, or even protection.
- Follow the rules but skirt what you can – If you can find legal ways to pay less taxes, then do so. If you can avoid complying with unjust laws, find ways to do so. Otherwise, accept your position as a chattel and pay the government its money. Never feel angry about your predicament. Anger won’t save you; virtue and competence will.
Conclusion: Envisioning Self-Governance and Individual Responsibility in a Stateless Society
“The idea that anarchy is synonymous with chaos is simply an error: an error so grave and so foolish that we can only marvel at its persistence.” – Stefan Molyneux
In conclusion, our journey from understanding government abuse to embracing personal liberty and anti-statism opens pathways for individual growth.
Individualism is about individual personal responsibility and power given to the individual. Government is collectivized violence for the sake of the many at the expense of the few.
A stateless society may be possible but cannot be achieved now. The average person is incapable of personal power. When most people refuse responsibility, the government will and has stepped in. Eventually, what we have will collapse, but we can build something better.
Never delude yourself into believing the government will turn into a force for good. It will always remain ineffective, brutal, and dysfunctional, especially as it grows in size and influence.
Keep your head and focus on your personal power. Free yourself by Becoming an Individual.
Actionables: Steps for Personal Growth and Relationship Readiness
- Your current mindset – What do you think about the government now? How did you view the state before reading this post?
- What others taught you – What were your lessons when you were growing up? How was the state presented to you? Why do you think you were given the version of the government that you were given when you were younger?
- Knowledge and action – What do you plan to do now that you maturely understand the state? How will you approach the state? How will you talk about the state with others? How can you strengthen yourself and improve your life so you are not as dependent on the government and its failings?
- Community Involvement: Volunteer for local community organizations or initiatives to understand the role of grassroots movements in societal change. Attend town hall meetings or local government sessions to observe firsthand how local governance operates.
- Self-Reliance Practices: Develop skills in areas like budgeting, basic home repairs, or first aid to reduce dependency on external services. Start a personal project, such as a garden or a blog, to foster independence and self-expression.
Further Reading: Diverse Perspectives on Government Role and Individual Freedom
“It is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking.” – Ron Paul
- “Everyday Anarchy” by Stefan Molyneux: This book explores the concept of anarchy in daily life, arguing for a society free from government control and advocating for voluntary interactions as the foundation of social order.
- “The Virtue of Selfishness” by Ayn Rand: Rand presents a moral defense of individualism and self-interest, challenging traditional ethics by asserting that rational selfishness is crucial for genuine human flourishing.
- “Against the State: An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto” by Lew Rockwell: Rockwell critiques the state and its role in society, promoting anarcho-capitalism as a system where free markets and voluntary interactions replace government functions.
- “Bourbon For Breakfast” by Jeffery Tucker: This collection of essays delves into various aspects of daily life, economics, and social theory, highlighting the importance of personal freedom and spontaneous order in a humorous and accessible manner.
- “End The Fed” by Ron Paul: Former Congressman Ron Paul criticizes the Federal Reserve System, arguing for its abolition and advocating for a return to sound money policies and a free-market banking system.
- “The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek: Hayek warns of the dangers of central planning and socialism, asserting that they inevitably lead to totalitarianism and arguing for the preservation of individual liberty and free-market capitalism.
- “Anatomy of the State” by Murray Rothbard: This is a fundamental read for those interested in anarcho-capitalist theory, explaining the nature of the state from this perspective.
- “The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism” by David D. Friedman: Friedman’s book discusses how anarcho-capitalism might work in practice.
- “For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto” by Murray Rothbard: Rothbard lays out the principles of libertarianism in a comprehensive manner.
- “Capitalism and Freedom” by Milton Friedman: Friedman, a Nobel laureate in economics, discusses the role of competitive capitalism as a mechanism for economic and political freedom.
Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
Refer to the linked articles and studies throughout this post for detailed evidence and case studies supporting these views.
*Image credit to Unsplash